I wish I knew why I was feeling so much rage. It’s likely due to a significant lack of my normal activity level, combined with finally reaching the breaking point of social media.
And my patience with human beings.
And, if we’re being honest, it’s also because of the koalas.
The wildfire in Australia is devastating in a way that I can’t seem to even begin to wrap my mind around…and there is no end in sight. Over one billion animals have died, so far, all at the hands of human beings in one form or another. One BILLION. We created this ever deteriorating environment that is resulting in wildfires, floods, and storms of the likes that we’ve never seen before. We did this…and the collective “we” is showing no sign of slowing down our reign of environmental terror and destruction.
And rumor has it, these fires were started by arson and ignorance. Both human specialties.
Every time I’d see another video of kangaroos fleeing across fiery fields, or koalas so badly burned that they are clinging to firefighters, desperately drinking from plastic water bottles, my heart would physically ache. And I’d look around at my social media feeds to see an overwhelming lack of concern. Hundreds of posts about an apparent “risque” Superbowl halftime show overshadowed such menial circumstances like the destruction of an entire ecosystem. Don’t even get me started on the political debates. We have become so focused on being “right” and ruthlessly pointing out how our adversaries are “wrong” that we are beginning to lose sight of the fact that we, as a whole, are crumbling.
Sprinkled into my social media feed is an occasional apathetic “save the koala” post from people driving fossil fuel guzzling SUV’s on their way to purchase fast fashion and factory farmed meat. (Bear with me here, I call myself out soon enough…)
And to my surprise, all of this has filled me with so many emotions I still don’t know how to sort them out. Anger. Heartache. Fear. Sadness.
Truth be told, there is so much more to it than the koalas or the SUV drivers. There are children in cages, our leaders are openly spewing and encouraging hatred, and our democracy is disintegrating right before our eyes, just to name a few things.
I, too, am guilty as the next person when it comes to bitching about my first world problems while simultaneously displaying my own hypocrisy. I am so far from perfect, it’s not even up for discussion. I am flawed, dangerously so. But it’s so much easier (and such a privilege, I’m recognizing) to ignore the hard things, sweep them under the rug and pretend they don’t exist. For me though, this impossible to overlook decimation of our earth was the proverbial straw that broke the back of me wondering what the hell I’ve been doing with my life lately, and how I’m contributing to this mess.
What a segue. Hold tight, this is gonna get even more ugly before we get to the crux of this story.
I’ve never been one of those “why are we here?” meaning of life contemplation types. I love life. I do not fear growing old. But lately it feels as if I’m slowly waking up from a decade of having my head buried in my phone or staring at a computer screen, and my brain, hell my entire being, is craving something more meaningful.
I’ve dabbled this year (and the year is still young) in unplugging, deleting Facebook from my phone, and taking a few days here and there from logging in. But I always come back, and before I know it, I’m once again mindlessly scrolling through social media feeds. Things like videos of a gymnastics meet of the kid of someone I barely know, or the Strava details for the run of a person I’m not even sure I’ve ever met, or the exact macros of the dinner a fitness influencer I’m not even sure why I follow ate that night, all occupy my brain space, while the real world – my real life – passes me by.
And I know I’m not the only one guilty of that.
For many of you, I’m sure you’re thinking “well, just unplug already, what’s the big deal?”. However, it’s important to remember that I have made blogging and social media a career. Facebook posts, Instagram stories, and page views all pay my rent. I’ve mentioned it before in this space, but I’ll say it again. There is immense pressure to “keep up” when it comes to working in the social media realm.
Here comes a massive freaking first world problem, but hear me out. I fully recognize how entitled and whiny this is going to sound:
Life as a bottom of the totem pole, yet still professional social media content creator looks a little something like this: You’ve got to stay engaged with your audience, you’ve got to regularly post, for if you don’t, you fall on the wrong side of the algorithm, fall off of the feed of your followers, and watch your income and opportunities tumble. You’ve got to constantly stay on top of SEO, writing in a style that feels wildly unnatural, for if you don’t, someone else will come along and outrank you. And again, there goes your paycheck.
So in this “hustle every day” culture, it equates to constantly being glued to the internet, for fear of missed opportunities, or missing new trends that keep you on top. Respond to comments. Send those emails. Create new pins, make sure your content is seen! You find yourself documenting the most menial parts of your day in order to seem “relatable”, even though these “menial” moments are actually carefully planned and curated. Before you know it, you aren’t truly living your life anymore.
While fearing missed opportunities to “grow”, you’re actually missing out on something so much more important: your life.
And deep down, you realize this. But you can’t be the one to admit defeat, because by the nature of social media, disconnecting is a death sentence to the almighty analytics.
The other day I purchased my first Lightroom preset. Bright whites, warmer tones, vintage feels, you know the ones I’m talking about. Seemingly everyone else is using them, the aesthetic they create is desirable…though a false reality. What’s “real” is not good enough. And that’s when it hit me:
My authenticity is dying.
It was a proverbial slap in the face.
And that’s what this is all about, really. It’s not the “hustle”, it’s not busting your ass to do well at your job. All of that I can accept. Hell, those that do SHOULD be rewarded.
It’s more the fact that none of it feels genuine anymore…and I’m contributing to it. And that sits uncomfortably on my conscious.
On March 2nd I’ll turn 38 years old. I’m typically not a numbers person, but growing up I always declared that number eight was my lucky number. It was on every sports jersey of every team I ever played for. Therefore, I have high hopes for this year. And I’ve decided that the first gift I’m going to give myself, is the gift of unplugging.
38 days, social media free. Starting today. I’ll continue to write, because that feeds my soul, rather than depletes it. (And obviously, I’ll still be coaching.) But the rest of it? Well, like Peter Cetera once said, somewhere around the time period where Chicago went from being really good to easy listening radio fill: “everybody needs a little time away”…
I absolutely LOVE, and I cannot emphasize this enough, that the internet has provided me the opportunity not only to create a career doing something I enjoy, but the ability to connect with people I would have never otherwise had the opportunity to meet, whether in real life or virtually. I love that the internet is an endless opportunity to gain knowledge, and watch things that make me truly giggle (like screaming goat videos). I love that the internet has allowed global movements to form, and for so much good to be achieved.
No, the internet is not inherently bad. Social media is not the enemy.
But I want to do better. BE better. Make an actual, positive difference during my time here on earth.
But first, the current bitterness and discontent building in my soul definitely needs to be addressed. It needs to be addressed without the overwhelming feeling that I’m never doing enough or that I cannot keep up. It needs to be nurtured without endless distraction of things that do not matter.
Most of all, my soul needs a reality check as to what is truly important in life. Real life.
I’ve learned in my last 37 years that when you feel like you are at a breaking point, chances are you are on the verge of a big change, a significant shift. That change is almost always good, but it does not come without struggle or strife. That’s where I am – where I’ve been – for the last couple of months.
So this feels like the right place to start.
It may be the best decision I’ve ever made or the worst one. But I’ve always been an advocate of following your heart. Here’s hoping I find what I’m looking for.
3 comments on “Marsupials & Meditation”
Greeting 38 with gusto and bravery and intention sounds like a wonderful plan. I appreciate the tipping point – and yet your statement about not being as authentic – or feeling like that was in jeopardy is the line in the sand I would be paying attention to as well. Bravo to you for seeing it and refusing to cross it. I subscribed to your blog so I don’t miss the good stuff. 🙂
Thank you for this! I completely agree and can relate to all you’ve said here. Thank you for the reality check. I think we often need that!
<3 I love this! and you. It is so hard. I can't wait to see you the month after, when I turn 38!!! <3
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